Steal [Our] Idea – The Red Sky Hydra: The Living Ship for GMs Who Like a Role-Playing Challenge

In the city of Valtarin, a curse caused the residents to become animate objects. While everyone else was trapped within the city limits, the guards and prisoners in the dungeon near the edge of the ocean experienced a different fate. Rather than becoming separate objects, they all became different parts of the same ship. They alone have the ability to escape the bounds of the curse, allowing them to sail the high seas… when they can coordinate long enough to do so.The Red Sky Hydra is a two-mast merchant ship equipped with a dozen cannons. It’s figurehead is an eleven-headed hydra, and it’s serpentine body stretches down the length of the ship on both sides.

Thanks to fellow Gollicking members u/Paddywagon for writing Flannibal the Cannibal, and u/DwizKhalifa for writing Dirty Jones.

Name: Tryous Thomburn (prisoner)

Part of the ship: Figurehead

Who are they?: When the guards did nothing about the thieves’ guild expanding their turf, one man stood up to them. Donning a mask and blue armor, he used his keen eyes and his taste for justice to patrol the streets of his city. Unfortunately, strength, determination, and the willingness to do good didn’t stop him from being arrested for assault.

Terminally optimistic, Tryous always sees the potential good in every situation. He also believes everyone can be a good person, though a swift kick to the head is a go-to method for him.

As the figurehead of the ship, he can control each of the eleven heads of the hydra independently. His full control of the eleven heads allows him to audibly assault the crew with his cheers of excitement and– usually– underdeveloped advice. And when he’s not doing that, he often talks to himself. The eleven heads also give him eleven sets of eyes, making him the ship’s primary lookout. However, he always includes his optimistic predictions and suggestions whenever he reports what he sees.

Person on the ship they like: Tryous sees Sieglinde as a woman who was and is trying to do her best, even if she did keep him in prison for bad reasons.

Person on the ship they distrust: Always seeing the good– or potential good– in people, Tryous doesn’t distrust anyone. However, he is incapable of keeping a secret, making the crew hesitant to trust him with anything that isn’t public knowledge.


Name: Gabriel Hornsfey (guard)

Part of the ship: Mast and sail

Who are they?: Go to mage school they said. It’ll guarantee you’ll always have good-paying work, they said.

Gabriel learned why in a world where people can teleport across a continent and conjure fire from thought not everyone has those skills. It’s the same reason not everyone is a world-class sculptor or expert swordsman or world-trekking bard. No matter how much you learn, the best possess a talent that not even practice can replicate. And after racking up a lifetime’s worth debt and knowing little more than cantrips and a few spells after four years, he dropped out, taking the best paying job an inexperienced young adult can get: a prison guard.

As a guard, Gabriel saw more of himself in the prisoners than he cared to admit. When debt collectors devolved to harassing him in the streets, he considered robbing or stealing to get enough funds to keep them at bay and buy a meal that tasted like real food. The weight of his failed attempt to become a mage pressed on him, and depression fueled his apathetic view on his soul-crushing life.

In a lot of ways, no longer being human was a release from the problem-filled life he had. While he doesn’t love being part of a ship, he knows it’s given him a second chance he never could have experienced otherwise.

Person on the ship they like: Much like himself, Gabriel views Flannibal is an outcast and a failure. While he tends to hide how much he talks to Flannibal from the rest of the crew, and he downplays to Flannibal how much he appreciates his friendship.

Person on the ship they distrust: Tryous. He doesn’t believe someone can truly be that optimistic.


Name: Cecilia Shawrunk (prisoner)

Part of the ship: Wheel

Who are they?: After Cecilia poisoned her husband’s scotch and watched him drink it, she thought she’d gotten away with it. But when he keeled over, she heard a gasp came from the closet.

Cecilia threw open the doors, finding a naked woman cowering before her. The bastard had brought one of his mistresses into their own house. Staring down at the frightened woman, Cecilia knew she wasn’t going to kill the woman, and which means she knew that woman would squeal. Cecilia accepted her fate. Three days later, guards came to arrest her on suspicion of murder.

Cecilia is overprotective when it comes to matters than could lead to the crew dying. As the ship’s steering apparatus, she is inclined to move them away from danger. She’ll always argue for the safer route. She knows how easy it was to kill her husband, how quickly death can come, and now she fears death for the crew. And if someone convinces her to do otherwise, she still mumble under her breath as she complies.

Cecilia always assumes the worst and will take any chance to say “I told you so” or “I knew that would happen” whenever something goes wrong. Cecilia is far less fearful about actions that don’t seem physically harmful. She is adventurous and wants to explore. But she will still tell them “I tried to warn you” anytime something goes wrong. Even if she didn’t warn them. Cecilia was in prison for less than a month before the turn, so she has a very different view on prison than the other prisoners.

Person on the ship they like: Being thickheaded and fifty-six years old when she transformed, she isn’t about to take crap from anyone. Tryous is the only person who gets that “No one understands how unpredictable life can be, or how easy killing someone is.”

Person on the ship they distrust: The cannons. Machines or people built for fighting will always try to fight.


Name: Flannibal the Cannibal (prisoner)

Part of the Ship: Galley

Who are they?: Flannibal is a cannibal of the greatest order. After his 5 star restaurant was shut down it was discovered he was experimenting with humans for his new dishes.

Flannibal is a fairly insane member of the ship. His insanity has only grown worse as the years have gone by without the chance of serving anyone his dishes. The poor fools that have found themselves in his grasp are treated to a bizarre and macabre musical eating experience.

Flannibal enjoys flattery and hates it when people don’t know who he is. His ego is his greatest flaw. Those who have survived an encounter with him used a large amount of flattery to boost his ego.

Person on the Ship they Like: GM decides.

Person on the Ship they Dislike: GM decides.


Name: The Loose Cannons (prisoners)

Part of the ship: Cannons

Who are they?: When Tryous Decided to take on the thieves guild, he did succeed in having 12 of them arrested alongside him. While each of the 12 guild members in the prison turned into a different cannon on the ship, something different happened to them. They became a hivemind. Now all twelve of them can share thoughts and speak as one. The other parts of the ship refer to them as the Loose Cannons, a name the cannons collectively adopted.

Person on the ship they like: Dirty Jones. Make friends with the person everyone else likes the least, and you have an ally for life.

Person on the ship they distrust: Sieglinde. She’s always listening, and she’s always hated them.


Name: Dirty Jones (prisoner)

Part of the ship: Poop Deck

Who are they?: Dirty Jones was a mystery of the urban maze before finally, after years of eluding capture, he was taken in by authorities and thrown in the dungeon. No one has seen him sleep, no one has ever made out exactly what it is he whispers, and everyone knows he doesn’t bathe. Maybe he should have been left to skulk around the gutters of the slums, but it doesn’t matter anymore. Now he serves as an obstacle to any who would approach the ship’s helm. First they must brave the sound and the smell of the awful, creaking, rotting floorboards on the aft deck.

Person on the ship they like: His buddy Cecilia, obviously. The feeling isn’t returned.

Person on the ship they distrust: Sieglinde. She never liked him.

Name: Sieglinde Rovrgust (guard)

Part of the ship: The hull

Who are they?: Born at sea, Sieglinde knew the anatomy of a boat before she knew how to walk. After 16 years at sea, she was the youngest person in the to obtain the role of captain. 7 years later, a kraken took her ship, crew, left eye, and her legs.

Forced into retirement, Sieglinde used the skills she’d mastered ordering her crew around and became the guard captain of a seaside prison. Bound to the land, she still loved the smell of the salty air. And now a part of the sea forever, she accepts her new life, though giving up the control she had is a difficult and constant process.

As the hull of the ship, Sieglinde literally holds everyone together. However, she has not control of anything. Once the guard captain of the prison, everyone– prisoner and guard alike– had to listen to her orders. But with power often comes resentment, and now that she has no power to control the ship in any way, most of the crew ignores her when she gives orders. She’s learned to offer “suggestions” rather than give orders, though her time as an experienced sailor and a successful prison guard captain means she knows better than anyone else how to coordinate people and what each situation calls for. Getting her impulsive and inexperienced shipmates to agree with her suggestions is the most difficult part.

As the hull, Sieglinde cannot do anything herself. But as a part of everyone else, she can assist them. She can steady the mast, nudge the rudder, even pivot the ship to help it turn. But every action she can take involves the direct assistance of whoever is in control of that part of the ship.

Person on the ship they like: Whoever is crewing the ship that isn’t “a part” of the ship. If they understand she knows what she’s talking about, it will make it easier to convince the rest of the ship.

Person on the ship they distrust: Cecilia. Her hesitation and constant questioning whenever a dangerous situation arrives is going to get someone killed.


I’m intractable on

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  • Discord (RexiconJesse#2068)
  • Twitter (Bite-sized RPG shenanigans)
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